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Author Notes: Pure comfort food. The pancetta gives it a nice smoky flavor, and the sherry vinegar adds just the right amount of acidity. Perfect with a nice piece of seared halibut or salmon, or on its own with some crusty bread, goat cheese and a glass of Pinot. Let it cool slightly before eating. The flavors really come out when it's warm, not hot. Perfectly fine cold as well. I really love the dark green De Puy French Lentils in this dish. They hold their shape much better, and are so much prettier than the brown lentils. —Burnt Offerings
Serves 4 as a main course
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 pkg. diced pancetta (2.5 - 3 oz)
- 2 large shallots, diced (~ 2/3rds cup)
- 2 large carrots, diced
- 1 cup medium fennel bulb, diced (celery is a fine substitute)
- 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/3 cup red wine
- 1 14.5 oz. can of fire roasted tomatoes with juice
- 2 Bay leaves
- 2 cups Good chicken stock, preferably homemade
- 2 cups De Puy Green French Lentils
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon Your best sherry vinegar
- 1 handful fresh parsley, rough chopped
- Heat the oil in a large skillet and fry the pancetta on medium high heat until crisp. Remove pancetta from the pan with a slotted spoon onto a plate lined with paper towels to drain.
- Lower the heat to medium, and in the same skillet, add the onions, carrots and fennel, and sauté them in the drippings until soft and caramelized, 8 - 10 minutes.
- Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant - 2 minutes
- Clear a spot in the center of the skillet, and fry the tomato paste until dark brown and fragrant, about 3 minutes
- Deglaze the pan with the red wine and cook until nearly dry.
- Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, thyme, bay leaves, sage, salt and pepper and stir well to combine.
- Add the lentils, bring the mixture to a simmer, cover and let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring once or twice.
- Remove lid, and if necessary, continue to simmer until mixture is nearly dry.
- Take salad off the heat, add the pancetta and vinegar, and taste for seasoning - add salt and pepper as needed.
- Plate and sprinkle liberally with parsley
- You can easily add sausage to this dish. Just brown the links in the same pan after cooking the pancetta, remove them from the pan, and then add them back in to braise with the lentils.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Dish with Meat as a Flavoring